Kids today are using screens more, earlier, and on a wider variety of devices than ever before, and more and more parents are seeking help in taking control of their children’s screen time.
I’ve recently become the chauffeur for my son and his group of friends, as they go to for a weekly gaming afternoon/hangout at one boy’s house. It’s clear that my role as the driver is to be invisible – they talk and goof around with each other in the car as if I’m not there, and if I do interject in their conversation, there’s a moment when they all freeze, confused as to where this voice from above came from, before ignoring it and carrying on. I’m there to hover on the outside, not to get involved.
In a house full of Lego, board games, basketballs and sidewalk chalk, it’s amazing how quickly boredom can set in. The magical screen seems to fix all – it’s like a siren song, constantly calling them, beckoning them with its flickering blue light.
When screens started being part of our daily lives – not just for work, but for entertainment, communication, and news – we parents had to do some serious thinking. What would the rules be? How would we govern these new devices? What were the best choices?
We got a new tech toy at Christmas this year – a Google Home. I must admit, I’d only learned that such a device existed a couple of weeks before I ordered one as a gift for my husband. I wasn’t sure what it would do or how we would use it, but it seemed like fun and it was on sale, so I picked one up.
As a kid, did you ever hide a flashlight under your pillow? Then pull it out after you were supposed to be asleep, so you could sneak in another half-hour of reading?
I did that. A lot.
How can you help pre-teens understand the value of their personal information and empower them to take steps to manage and protect it? Data Defenders, an educational game for children ages 10 to12, lifts the curtain on data collection by showing how apps and games can find out all kinds of things about them and by providing steps they can take to control the collection of personal information online.
We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.
Our son turned 15 last month, and we’ve had plenty of wary, nervous comments since then about how driving is just around the corner. Next year, he’ll be getting his beginner’s licence! Just 11 more months before he’s behind the wheel!
My middle daughter, age 13, read the novel The Outsiders last year. She loved it, and like any good mom who was raised in the 1980s, I bought her a DVD copy of the classic movie. She loved the film version, too.